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Custer All Pomped Up At Texas

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 10 2016
Cole Custer will receive his high school diploma at Texas Motor Speedway.

Cole Custer will receive his high school diploma at Texas Motor Speedway.

FORT WORTH, Texas – A day late and perhaps an adult beverage or two short, Cole Custer will graduate from Tesoro High School Friday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway.

Custer’s walk across the pre-race stage for the 20th annual Rattlesnake 400 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Friday evening definitely will be different. While his classmates at Tesoro High in Costa Mesa, Calif., celebrated their cap-and-gown moment Thursday evening, Custer will experience appropriate pomp-and-circumstance during a full graduation ceremony at “The Great American Speedway.”

Custer admitted it was a bit difficult to miss-out on the traditional coming-of-age ceremony. “But with me, racing always is going to come first. I wouldn’t regret my decision,” said Custer, a native of Ladera Ranch, Calif. “It’s really an awesome deal to get to graduate here…and get a feel for what I’m missing back home. And obviously they did that a couple of years ago with Erik Jones. It’s a really cool experience.”

Custer chose to race tonight at TMS instead of celebrating with his 500 classmates at Tesoro High. Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage will present Custer his actual diploma during a ceremony beginning at 7:30 p.m. (CDT).

“High school graduation is big for everyone and Cole’s the latest in a long list of young drivers who skipped graduation to go race,” said Gossage, who will be dressed in full graduation regalia. “The school district actually contacted us to see if we could do this and we said we certainly could. Be a lot of fun to present Cole his diploma on-stage. I’m looking for an honorary doctorate so I can be introduced as Dr. Eddie. Might introduce myself as Doctor of Promotions.”

Custer picked up his diploma from the school before heading to TMS. “I’m really excited to graduate and get out of high school,” Custer said. “It will be really good for me to be able to focus more on racing after school.”

Custer is driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet Silverado fielded by NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. Custer’s parents _ Joe, a Stewart-Haas Racing executive, and Cindy _ will join him on the pre-race stage.

“My mom’s always has been really big with school; she wanted me to be at a normal school, not online or anything,” Custer said. “It was kind of just what I had to do and I missed a lot of school and had to make up a lot of assignments when I came back. It made things a little bit difficult but it was definitely manageable.”

Custer said he plans to attend college classes at UNCC in Charlotte in his spare time.

Diploma in tow, Custer then will make his first appearance on TMS’ high-banked, 1.5-mile quadoval. This year marks his first full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series after running limited schedules in 2014 and ’15. Cole has posted wins in each of his first two seasons of competition, earning his first career Truck Series victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., in September 2014. He captured the second win of his career last year at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis in June.

“I called a lot of people before coming here,” Custer said. “One of the guys I called was Ron Hornaday because he’s had a lot of success here in the Truck Series. Just trying to gain as much information as I can.” Hornaday won three of his 24 starts at TMS, where he led a total of 685 laps.

“The track is fast, wore-out, kind of bumpy,” Custer said after lapping in two practices Thursday. “It’s fun to race on, just trying to manage the tires and work on multiple grooves. That’s what we’re trying to set our truck up for.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 10 2016
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